Saturday, December 29, 2012

To Fix or To File?

Earlier this year I actually finished the story I wrote about in the previous post. It's the story that got stuck in my brain after not writing for 25 years, and brought me back. Finishing is my biggest writing block, so this was huge for me. I think I'd tried, and started over with this story at least 4 or 5 times. Changing point of view, changing what characters are it it all together, changing tense, changing from a short story to a novel. Finally I just wanted the thing done. And now it is.

Or is it?

While it is done in the sense that I wrote it all the way through to the end, it is an unreadable mess right now. I decided to set it aside for a month before starting on draft #2, and fixing the problems I know about. Not really such a daunting thing. Big changes are needed, for plot points that changed a long the way, and need to be brought in line in the beginning, and things like that. I kept what I think are good notes along the way. So I think it's doable. But is it worth doing?

I'm happy I finished. I'm proud even. My dilemma is that I just don't know if I feel that even with all the repairs done, and polished up as best I can, that it'll be an interesting story. Honestly, if it isn't, it doesn't upset me like I thought it would. It was still a great experience, and I learned a lot. I think I'm a better writing now than when I began even the latest version. Looking at it as a very long, wandering writing lesson would be fine by me.

So I guess I wonder my writing time would be better spent writing something new than fixing up something that will then live quietly on my hard-drive. There are doubtlessly lessons to be learned in the revision process as well. There is learning to be found everywhere, after all.

I had decided to let the story sit for a month before starting on the revisions. It has now been 2 months, and I still haven't peeked back at it again. I'm leaning toward pulling it out in the new year, and seeing if the distance of time as really changed my view of things, like so many folks tell me it will. I suspect, I will try to fix it up, if only so I can feel more finished with it.

I'm curious about you other writers out there and how you handle your revisions. I've read blogs that advise sticking to Heinlein's rules, including "Never rewrite." Then there is the camp that believes "Writing is rewriting.". Where do you land on the revision/rewriting spectrum?

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Next Big Thing

I was tagged by Amanda Borenstadt over at A Fortnight of Mustard.
You should go read about her Next Big Thing. She's funnier than me. Then go to the person she sends you to, and so on. It'll be fun.
The rules of the blog hop are simple: Answer ten questions about your WIP (Work in Progress) and tag five more writers/bloggers to do the same.

What is the working title of your book?

For a very long time, I thought this was perfect, but I don't like it anymore. Thinking of something better. . .
Where did the idea come from for your book?

It was so long ago, I don't remember. I do remember that this was the idea that brought me back to writing after 15 years away from it.

What genre does your book fall under?

Science Fiction. Aliens, spaceships, all that.

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

I've recently discovered that when I stand in the supermarket check out line, I no longer know who anyone on the magazine covers are. So I don't feel qualified to answer this. However, since it takes place on an alien planet with lots of different types of aliens wandering around, I think a fair amount of it would need to be computer animated.

What is the one sentence synopsis of your book?

A team of researchers underestimate the small, blind aliens on a previously unexplored planet, and must correct their mistake and gain the alien's help if they hope to make it home again.

Wow. I never tried to get it down to one sentence before. That was hard.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

I have no idea. Right now, it is too much of a mess to imagine anyone reading it. It is also going to end up being way too short for a traditional novel. I haven't let myself research publishing options for novellas until I get it fixed up into a presentable shape.

How long did it take to write the first draft of your book?

That depends on what you call the first draft. I wrote a 7,000 word short story with this idea back in 2005, when I started writing again. It was awful and only resembles my WIP in the overarching idea. I also wrote this as a NaNoWriMo novel for two separate years. Neither of them worked well for different reasons. My current incarnation is the best so far, but I've lost track of where one version started and where they ended.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

In most of the Sci-Fi I read the aliens are either walking and talking, or of the cute stupid fluffy type. I guess it might be somewhat like Sundiver by David Brin in that there are intelligent aliens that no one really understands, but that would be the only similarity.

Who or what inspired you to write this book?

It was just a "what if" idea I had that kept poking at me. I don't think humans are very good at recognizing intelligence in other species. I imagined this problem would be far worse when it came to alien life that was so vastly different from us.

What else about the book might pique the reader’s interest?

In addition to the aliens, it is also about doing something new, and scary. The main character has to learn to trust herself when she has no guide to follow.

I don't think I know any writers who haven't already been tagged. If I think of some, I will actually tag them this time because I love reading about other people's writing process.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

2012 NaNoWriMo

I was not going to participate in National Novel Writing Month this year. The main reason was that, having actually won NaNoWriMo once, I now know exactly what sort of mental energy it takes and I just plain don't have that in me right now.

But. . . .

I am darn close to finishing my work-in-progress (I've stopped calling it my novel since it will be far to short to fit that term). It has many problems and holes that need fixing. I know exactly what and where they are. I've kept a list, but haven't let myself fix them until I finish, since finishing is such a big problem for me.

It is very tempting to get to the end, and immediately start in on the rewrite, but all the advice I've heard says not to fall to that temptation. Instead, I understand it is wise to set the piece aside, give it a little time and distance, then I'll have a better perspective when I dive back in.

The timing seems perfect to let NaNoWriMo be that distance. Now, I'm not doing NaNo for real. I'll be breaking lots of rules. I may not be 100% finished with my WIP by Nov 1st, so I may work on that a few days first until the first draft is done. Also, as I mentioned, I can't cope with 1667 words a day, every day. So my own personal goal will be to just write every day. So I suppose I'm participating more in spirit than as an actual NaNo novelist.

I do have my idea though, and I plan to try to push myself a few hundred words past where I would normally stop writing each day.

So what are you doing for NaNoWriMo this year?

Thursday, August 30, 2012

The Internet is Full of Lies

I think that most of you are savvy enough to know that a whole lot of lying goes on online, but I think most of us don't really think about how much lying is really going on. I know I don't - I don't want to. I like to think people are trustworthy and generally good. I was reminded today that, especially online, this just isn't so.

What brought this to mind was this article from The New York Times: The Best Book Reviews Money Can Buy. I was disappointed when I read that authors (or maybe publishers even? Who knows.) were paying for book reviews. At least many of them were willing to accept honest reviews (if a paid review could be called that), but many were buying positive reviews. I was disapointed - but not surprised. I will bet money that books are not the only things out there paying for fake reviews.

A few years ago I frequented freelance writer boards looking for opportunities to write. That was where I started to learn how dishonest the internet was. There were frequent listings looking for writers to write fake forum posts recommending products as though they were from real people. Lots of calls for articles endorsing something or other that would be posted around on those content sites. Even one form a man who was "too busy" to respond to his personal dating website messages, so wanted to hire a writer to correspond with the women there for him - pretending to be him. Charming.

So this is just a public service reminder. The internet is easy to trick. It is a web of lies. Don't trust it.

And to end on a fun fake review note, I send you to the UK version of Amazon to read the entertaining reviews for BIC Pens for Her. You'll be glad you did.

Friday, August 17, 2012

What I Read in July

Several other bloggers that I read regularly post a list of what they've been reading. Even though it just makes me want to read even more stuff that I will probably never get to, I like it anyway. So I'm stealing it.

Creating Unforgettable Characters by Linda Serger
This is mainly about screenwriting, but it promised to also apply to novel writing. I guess some if it did, but not as much as I was hoping. Although much of what it suggested, I'd heard or read in other places as well, so I suppose that supports it as being sound advice. I was just hoping for something new - to me anyway. Many of the examples I didn't find useful, especially the ones involving commercials. Even really wonderful commercials I just don't get a great sense of character from, so these examples just fell flat for me.

Even so, I was never tempted to skip ahead or stop reading altogether, and even if some of the suggestions were things I'd heard before, hearing them over again can only help to get them through my thick skull. So I'm still happy to have invested my time in this book.

Cat Daddy by Jackson Galaxy
This is less a book about cat behavior and more a memoir of Mr. Galaxy's life. Although he does weave some cat information into the narrative because his life has been influenced by cats more than a little. He has struggles with multiple addictions in his life and goes into that topic in a good amount of detail. The cat behavior information is mostly good, solid stuff, but it was nothing new to me. I've never seen his show, so I had no expectations for the book, and I generally enjoyed it.

Redshirts by John Scalzi
As both a Scalzi and a Star Trek fan, I'd been looking forward to this one, and was happy to receive the Kindle version for my birthday. Honestly, I had a little trouble getting into it. I knew it was going to be a comedy, but the first few chapters just felt sort of. . . stupid to me. Then I realized this wasn't a 'playing it straight' sort of comedy, but more of an over the top, full blown silliness kind of comedy, and I almost instantly started enjoying it more. A lot more.I couldn't wait to make my family read it kind of more.

It's a shorter book, and there are three codas at the end that tie in to the main story but happen outside the central narrative. I read several Amazon reviews that suggested not bothering with the codas, but I'm glad I ignored that. The codas were some of my favorite parts. By the time I was done, I'd gone from 'meh' to five stars in my opinion of the book.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Return of the Silkmoth

Well, not really a return exactly.

Today I needed to use my iron, that I haven't used in a few months. Yes, really. It sits on top of a bookshelf above where I kept the silkworms when they were spinning their cocoons. Inside of and attached to the wrapped up iron cord I found a cocoon. So that means a caterpillar climbed up out of its box, and to the top of this (admittedly kind of short) bookcase.

It has a hole in it, telling me that somewhere, maybe behind the bookcase, is a dead moth too. It never ends, I tell you.

P.S. The photo is a reenactment, as I unwound the cord before I realized a cocoon was attached to it.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

The Magician's Nephew, craft project - rings and pocket.

I co-host a kid’s book club. One of my responsibilities is to come up with an activity and/or craft that goes along with our book of the month. Sometimes I’ve found great idea from a simple Google search. After all, we’ve generally stuck to the classics, or books that are commonly taught in classrooms. I’m actually more surprised when I can’t find anything good. It goes to show how spoiled the internet has made me. I expect it to plan everything for me. 

When recently, I didn’t find anything I liked for the book “The Magician’s Nephew” by CS Lewis, I needed to come up with my own craft idea. I decided, since I take so many ideas from other blogs, I should share what I came up with. Only fair.

What I decided to do was to have the kids make their own green and gold rings. First, I thought we’d make them from air drying clay, but the selection at my local craft shop was disappointing. So I wandered into the jewelry making section, and found this neat wire. Even thought I expected it to be more difficult to work with, it would also look way cooler, and that counts for something.

I’ve learned it is always a good idea to test out a project before doing it with a group of kids, so my girls and I tried making rings the night before our book meeting. It was much more difficult than I’d expected. My hat off to jewelry makers who use this stuff. I’d picked a think wire, 16 gauge I think it was. I thought we’d just measure the little fingers, use wire cutters, and pliers to bend. But the pliers also stripped all the beautiful color off the wire, defeating the whole point. So I ended up wrapping the wire around this peg, and precutting the rings, then just passing them out and letting the kids stretch or smoosh them to a good personal fit. 

Now, in the book it is clear that you shouldn’t touch the rings when you don’t want to go into another world, so we needed a pouch or pocket to keep them in. I like felt for kid sewing projects because it is inexpensive, colorful, and super easy to work with. You can leave raw edges without worry. For my sample I sewed a lion on the front of the pouch for decoration, but brought along fabric glue as well, which turned out to be what most of the kids chose to use to add embellishments to their pouches. 

I did need to call on other mom reinforcements when a lot of the kids all needed help threading their needles all at the same time, but otherwise the project went well, and the kids seemed to enjoy their little treasures.
I told them that when they read a book, any book, it is like they are going into another world, so they should put on their outgoing ring (the gold one if I remember correctly). When they’re all done reading and ready to return to our world, they can put on their green ring.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Paper Books vs. Ebooks

I had a moment of epiphany today. I was reading a book on my Kindle, but I sadly had to stop to do other things. As I put book down, I thought to myself, “I love my Kindle.” 

That thought stopped me. Literally. I stood still for a moment. I was one of those people who thought, sure, an e-reader might be convenient, but it will never be like reading a REAL book. I like the way real books smell and feel. How I know how far along I am in the story by how thick the stacks of pages are in each hand. I love all that stuff. 

So this sudden spontaneous thought about loving my e-reader took me off guard somewhat. Do I really love it that much? What do I love about it? I like it. It’s light and has great battery life. It’s easy to use, but it doesn’t smell like old paper or anything cool like that. 

Then the epiphany. I’m really enjoying the story I’m reading. (Redshirts by John Scalzi if you’re curious). That’s what I love. That’s what I suspect everyone who says they love real books means. What I really love is a good story. 

For so long, all the stories we loved came with that certain feel of a book in your hands. The smell. The pages flipping. It created a whole bunch of positive associations that are powerful. The go back to childhood for most of us. I remember hiding in the bushes on the side of my house, or under my bed to read a book in peace when I was a kid. Good memories. For so long now I thought I loved books as a physical thing. Turns out, I just love the stories. I love the stories enough that the physical thing they’re attached to became loved right along with the stories.

There are a lot of people who don’t think they could ever enjoy reading on an e-reader. I even fell into that thinking myself. I’m so happy to realize that the format isn’t all that important after all. I think it’s very good news for stories, because technology doesn’t go backward.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Is There Life Out There? - and Revisiting Older Stories

Skiing penguin

Ernie waddled to the edge of the iceberg, looking out over the endless ocean. Next to him other penguins dove into the water, and others jumped back onto the berg, but he took no notice of any of them. His mind danced along the horizon, teasing him with imaginings of what lay beyond.

“What are you looking at?” It was Blackie, a friend who’d come up beside him.

“Hum? Oh, nothing, I just... Hey Blackie, have you ever thought about what’s past the ocean?”

“What do you mean, like the breeding rocks?”

“No, beyond that. Have you ever wondered what else is out there?”

“There isn’t anything else. Just look.”

“I heard about a place where it’s so warm that ice melts, plants grow really tall, and there are all types of strange creatures. Wouldn’t it be incredible to see a place like that?”

“Who told you that crazy stuff?”

“Well, one of the fish who goes to the north in the summer said that...”

“You’re talking to the fish? Oh come on Ernie, even if it were true, what would a fish know about it. He’s messing with you.”

“No, no, he met some of the other creatures there. No, I believe him. They swim a lot farther than we do. How do you know there isn’t anything else? Have you ever gone that far?”

“It doesn’t make sense. We would have heard about it before now if there were a place like that. You’re a trusting guy. You should stay away from those fish, they’re playing a mean joke on you.” Blackie shuffled away, shaking his head.

Ernie looked out again, trying to see as far as he could. Was he a fool to listen to fish? It didn’t matter; he needed to believe there was more.


I wrote this for an online daily writing contest. . . oh gosh - so many, many years ago. But I still kinda like it. I like the optimism and curiosity of the main penguin, Ernie. What I never cared for is the ending. For a long time, I knew the ending was bad, but I didn't know why. Now, it is obvious to me that the problem is there really is no ending. This is a beginning. It sets up the character and his desires. Then it stops. I've been thinking lately that it would be fun to finish this. Give Ernie his adventure. I even checked out some books about penguins from the library today to read up on what might be a plausible way for him to get started on his journey.

I suspect, however -deep down, this may actually be a procrastination tactic I've created because I'm stuck in my novel.  Today, I planned to give myself a few hours of dedicated writing time. I didn't need to do other things, I'd let the kids have the run of the house, do whatever they wanted. I would write. Ya know what I did? I cleaned. I hate to clean. Hate. And I took a nap. I didn't sleep well last night. That's what I told myself. I couldn't write while I was so sleepy. Right? I would do so much better after a nap. Then it was time to start dinner. Oh darn - out of time.

Pitiful. Embarrassing and pitiful. 

So here is what I'm doing now. I'm making some quick notes on my ideas for Ernie, then I'm setting that aside. Giving him a real story will be my reward for finishing my novel. Finishing is a big problem for me in general. I'm to the point where I don't really care if it's good. It just needs to be finished.

Do you ever catch yourself self-sabotaging? What are your clues, and how do you get yourself back on track?

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Way, way, way too many silk worms

We have raised silkworms for several years now. Enough that I mistakenly believed we knew what we were doing. But this year, we learned something new. Well, a few new things actually.

Last year was the first time we raised silkworms hatched from the eggs of our own silkmoths from the previous year. I saved several hundred eggs at least, but only a dozen or so of them hatched. I'd followed what limited instructions I could find at the library and online about how to care for and store the eggs. I thought Id done everything right. So I assumed that this was a fairly normal result. Most eggs don't hatch. Some do. I filed that knowledge away in my little brain.

Then this year, we had saved all the eggs that those dozen or so silkmoths had produced. We hoped for a little better turn out, but would be happy with a dozen or so again.

Every single egg hatched.

I looked really hard for any duds. Every tiny shell was split open. Every little catapillar emerged.

I knew it was a awful lot of silkworms, but when they are so new, they are too tiny to count, and even a lot of them don't look like much of anything. They're the size of a comma at the start. But as time went on, and they grew - and ate, and ate - and grew, it became more clear by the day that we had a problem.

We managed to find other families to take some of them when we realized we were in over our head. We should have tried harder to give away more.

For several weeks, our chore, morning, noon, and night, was finding enough food for these caterpillars to eat. I developed a thick hide about the strange looks from passersby as my kids and I attacked any mulberry tree we could get our mitts on. It really stopped being fun very early on.

Once they had gone into cocoons, I did a count. There were 652 cocoons. That's way too many for one tired mama and a couple of slightly helpful kids to take care of. In case you were wondering how many to get for yourself. Aim for closer to the dozen than the 652 mark if you value your sanity. This doesn't even include the probably 70+ caterpillar we gave away or the ones that died without making cocoons. Unfortunately, there were more of those than I would have liked, but I wouldn't be surprised if some just didn't get enough to eat in the critical bulking up stage before spinning. We spent hours every week picking leaves, and still they would disappear in minutes. So I'd estimate we probably had over 800 hatch in the beginning.

It was insanity I tell you. Insanity. Don't do that.

Naturally, after my hair turned grey and we spent a solid week with no clean clothes or dishes because every spare moment was spent taking care of hundreds of insects, my kids announce they want to raise silkworms again next year. Of course they do.

But I am carefully counting how many eggs I save this year. Maybe 50 at most.

Maybe more like 10.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Daisy Bird 1998(?) - 2012

Photo by Robert M. Hartz. All rights reserved.

Found as a stray, with her beak broken completely off at the cere, and full of parasites, Daisy found her way to me. She healed better than anyone expected. She loved my husband best because being whistled to was more important to her than who cleaned her cage. She taught my children about reproduction with her clutches of empty eggs. She chewed her nails when she was nervous, and loved to have her head rubbed. She could pick out her own beloved silver bell from a group of identical bells. She will be missed.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Kindle First Impressions

I got my Kindle Keyboard at Christmas, so I’ve been using it for around 9 weeks now. So, it’s time to share my impressions as a new Kindle user. I think most of the things I like about my Kindle are probably true of most other brands or e-readers as well, but I only have experience with the Kindle.

What I like about it so far:

1. I love the size and weight of it. It’s easy to hold in one hand if I want. The screen is a perfect size for reading in my opinion, probably because it is close to paperback book sized. I have both the Kindle and Nook aps on my Android phone and I almost never use either of them to read with because the screen is so tiny, I’m almost constantly scrolling. How easy it is to hold is the major feature that surpasses paper books in my opinion. Especially if you like long-ish books like I do. Have you tried to lay on your side and read a big honking book? There’s no comfortable way to do it. The size also makes taking it everywhere with you much easier than a paper book most of the time.

2. The e-ink screen. Speaking of screens, I also like the e-ink screen much better than the bright screen on my phone, or trying to read on my computer. Again, it is much closer to the experience of reading a paper book, and is much easier on my eyes. I have almost no eye strain reading ebooks this way. I suppose it might be nice to be able to read in bed without another light on, but I think I’d rather have to add a night reading light than to be forced into a backlit screen all the time. I can also read outdoor in the sun with no problems at all. 

3. The battery lasts forever. Since I’m famous in my household for letting my phone die because I forget to charge it, I find it very handy to almost never need to charge up my Kindle. My understanding is that if I leave the WiFi turned off, the battery lasts even longer, but I know I’ve forgotten to turn it off more than once and still, I’ve never had the battery die on me. I’m usually ready to plug in to add a new title well before I need to plug in just for charging.

4. I can add my own files. Amanda over at A Fortnight ofMustard turned me on to this great usage. I can add my own drafts to read over as I edit. I can add notes as I read, and having the document on a different screen lets me see mistakes that I may not otherwise catch. I do usually have to convert my files to a .mobi format since most pdf files I have are a little harder to read on the Kindle, but it hasn’t been hard to do the conversion so far, and I’m a tech dummy. Reading pieces for my writer critique groups is one of the main things I use my Kindle for.

5. The note making feature. See above. It’s very handy for my own pieces, and those I’m critiquing for others. I almost never make notes in novels I’m reading for pleasure, but I know some folks like that kind of thing. In fact, there is a feature that lets you highlight text, and see what lines have most often been highlighted by other Kindle users. I had to figure out how to turn that off, since I found other people’s highlights to be distracting and annoying as I read.

Things I don’t like:

1. The buttons on the side. I have to be very careful when I want to hold the Kindle in one hand, because I’ve pushed the side buttons many times when I didn’t mean to. Then I have to try to figure out if I accidentally moved forward or backward in my text, and how far I went. Also, the buttons were slightly unintuitive for me. For quite awhile I would hit the button on the right to go forward a page, and the one on the left to go back a page. That isn’t how it works though. There is a large and small button on each side. The large one goes forward, the small one goes back, no matter what side it’s on. Now that I’ve used it more I’ve gotten the hang of it and almost never mess it up anymore. In fact, being able to go forward or back without changing my hold is starting to grow on me. But it was a learning curve.

2. I can’t give a book to a friend when I’m done. This is a big hot button topic in the ebook world in general I think.  I know I’ve seen it mentioned many times as one of the reasons some people feel ebooks should cost less than paper books. My solution for the moment is not to by the ebook version of a title I know I’m going to want to hand off to my husband or my mother when I’m done with it. For example, my husband and I are both reading the Demon Cycle by Peter V. Brett. When ‘The Daylight War’ comes out, no matter how tempted I am to download and read it right away, I will buy a physical book to share with Robert. 

So those are my early impressions. I also feel like I’m actually reading more since I got my Kindle than I did before, even though I still mainly read paper books. After all, I still have a bookcase full of titles I haven’t gotten to yet. Maybe this is the excitement of having a new gadget to play with; maybe it’s all the pieces I’m reading for critique (I very rarely did this before since I didn’t like to read on my computer screen). I think it’s too early to tell for sure. I keep a reading journal, so later on, maybe after 6 months or a year, I’ll be better able to compare my total reading volume.

Monday, February 27, 2012

We Get to Look Forward to a New J.K. Rowling Book

That news, that I read at was exciting enough, but there was even more surprises in that announcement for me. The book will not be a Harry Potter book, and it will be aimed at adults. That’s really all the information that she has released so far, but it makes me very happy for a number of reasons.
First, I love the  Harry Potter books, so therefore, Rowling is one of my favorite authors. So really, anything new from her I’d want to read. I was worried that she may not write much more after the Potter series ended. I mean, she had a few small, related books like Beedle the Bard, etc., so I expected some other things in the same vein, but this is supposed to be something completely new.  

Furthermore, she doesn’t HAVE to write any more. She must be all set, really. Therefore, she must WANT to write more, and that makes me happy.  

I also imagine after such an enormously successful series, it would take real bravery to start something brand new. The amount of attention and expectations for anything she’ll write is much greater than other authors have to deal with. Even other fairly famous authors, I would imagine. Good for her!

There are a number of books I’m anxiously awaiting, but this may be the first one that I’ve looked forward to that I knew so little about. And for some silly reason, that makes me happy too.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Origins Blogfest: My Young Writing Life

Over at Cruising Altitude 2.0  DL Hammons has encouraged writers to blog today about how their writing journey began. I signed up to participate. I think I'm actually more interested in reading the entries of other writers, but to keep my end of the bargain, here's my story.

I always enjoyed writing. While going through storage boxes awhile back I found my very first diary. I couldn't read anything in it because I didn't know how to spell back then, or even how to form all of my letters properly. Yet I remember vividly how much I loved writing in that little pink book.

Back in the 9th grade, I decided to do something more productive with my joy of writing, and joined the freshman high school newspaper. My first assignment was to cover a school football game (we lived in West Texas at the time and it felt like 90% of what was in that paper was about school football.) I was very nervous, but I worked hard to get all my 'Whos, Whats, Whens, and Wheres' into my little article. When the paper came out, there was my name on an article. With nervous pride, I read it. It was not my article. No two words matched what I had written. I was heartbroken. The worst part, in my memory, is that I was too shy to talk to anyone else at the newspaper about what had happened. Did they lose my article, and throw this one in instead? Was what I turned in so horrible that it was unprintable? Did they just have to drastically cut my piece for space? I don't know and I was too much of a wimp to ask. I regret that. So instead, I went back to my journal, and gave up writing things for other people to read.

We moved here to California later that same school year. My English class was so crowded, that there were not enough seats for everyone. I, as the new kid, had to sit on the floor. If someone was sick, I got to have their desk for the day. My teacher for the rest of that year gave me a much needed boost to my writing self esteem. I don't' remember the assignment, but I wrote about the night my cat didn't come home, and I sneaked out of the house to look for her. My teacher raved about the story, telling me about her emotional response to what I'd written. That experience went a long way in healing my poor writing ego from the newspaper incident.

To try to cut this a little shorter, let's jump to 2005. After not writing for nearly 15 years, I got a Science Fiction story in my head that I couldn't get rid of. I wrote it up and put it on for feedback. Most of the feedback was of the, vague, 'it's pretty good' variety. Though one wonderful reviewer, Bob, tore it to shreds. He explained showing vs telling, and gave me links to writing articles. I was elated! I knew the story had big problems, but I didn't know what they were. Finally someone gave me something useful to work with. I found out that you didn't have to be either a good or a bad writer and that was that. Writing could be learned, and improved. And ever since then, I've been learning all I can.